NCCM AND WADDELL PHILLIPS APPEAL DECISION ON CSIS EMPLOYEE DISCRIMINATION CASE
(Toronto – September 8, 2022)
Lawyers from the National Council of Canadian Muslims and Waddell Phillips representing former CSIS employee, Sameer Ebadi, filed their appeal on a civil claim in court regarding systemic and continuous Islamophobia and racism by CSIS towards Mr. Ebadi. NCCM and Waddel Phillips will be appealing this decision to the Federal Court of Appeal.
The Federal Court ruled this summer that it lacked the jurisdiction to hear Mr. Sameer Ebadi’s complaints and that he, a former CSIS employee of 20 years, should go through the agency’s internal complaints process to seek a remedy for a variety of workplace abuses including being placed under surveillance, subjected to verbal and emotional abuse, and being physically assaulted.
“It is unreasonable to require Mr. Ebadi to pursue justice in a forum and through an internal mechanism run by CSIS, the very institution he seeks to hold accountable for the harms done and the injuries suffered. The decision of the Federal Court denies Mr. Ebadi his day in court. By holding that CSIS itself is the only venue to hear Mr. Ebadi’s complaints, it condemns him to suffer in silence,” said Daniel Kuhlen, NCCM’s Senior Legal Counsel.
“We will be appealing this decision as it raises fundamental concerns about due process and a government employee’s ability to bring forward serious complaints about a toxic workplace culture. No Canadian, let alone those we rely upon to help safeguard our country’s security, should be treated so abusively by CSIS. The Minister of Public Safety, and all Canadians, should be deeply alarmed that the ongoing problems identified at CISIS, including systemic racism, continue unabated and that the rights of CSIS employees, like Mr. Ebadi, are so egregiously disregarded.”
Mr. Ebadi is Muslim. He says that the abuse he endured after 9/11 at the hands of his CSIS colleagues includes them deliberately opening the door of his office, while he was prostrating in prayer, and slamming him in the head. This and other egregious allegations concerning the actions of Ebadi’s coworkers deserve to be heard by an independent court of law, not a CSIS management-driven process.
CSIS has publicly acknowledged that systemic discrimination and harassment exists within the Service, as does the risk of reprisal. This includes a public acknowledgement by CSIS Director, David Vigneault, himself. Moreover, the internal CSIS process, as determined by CSIS management, does not permit harassment complaints to be treated as workplace grievances. CSIS’s internal mechanisms are not fit for purpose when it comes to providing a remedy for Mr. Ebadi, or any other CSIS employee in his position.
Every Canadian has the right to practice their religion without discrimination. If that right has been violated, one is entitled to seek justice. That Mr. Ebadi has been denied the opportunity to seek justice in court is an affront. We will vigorously appeal so that justice may be served.